Name: Lauren Edgar
Profession: Planetary Geologist
What do you do for a living?
I work for the USGS Geological Survey. My work involves operating Mars rovers, training astronauts, and doing fieldwork here on Earth to understand what we’re seeing on other planets. My research is mostly focused on Mars, Earth, and the Moon, and using the rock record to infer past conditions on these planets.
What type of training do you need to do your job?
Many researchers in our field have an undergraduate degree in a STEM field (science, technology, engineering, or math), followed by graduate school. My own path involved a bachelor’s degree in earth sciences modified with engineering, followed by a masters and PhD in geology.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
I love being involved in NASA missions and working together with a big team of scientists and engineers to help explore our solar system. I love the outdoors, so I also really enjoy the time that I get to spend doing fieldwork and piecing together the history preserved in rocks and sediment.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Growing up, I was obsessed with space and wanted to be an astronaut. So it’s really fun to be involved in space exploration and work with astronauts!
What advice would you give to a kid who wants to have a similar career?
There are many ways to get involved in this field, and many different types of research (fieldwork, laboratory analyses, modeling, remote sensing, etc.). We need a diversity of thought and experiences, so I would encourage someone to explore multiple classes, get involved in research projects, ask questions, and hopefully find something that you love to do that can contribute to this field of exploration.
One fun fact NOT about your job?
I grew up doing gymnastics, and I still do handstands everywhere I go. If you send me to Mars, I’ll do one there!